All Leads Are Not Created Equally – Part II

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #9 from The Termite Effect:

Click here to watch the video post about Mistake #9.

Hopefully I have convinced you that developing a referral-based business is a worthwhile exercise. Below is a brief discussion of how to accomplish that.

#1 – Become a Master Networker (Click here for a previous blog post about Effective Networking) 

  • Listen to your prospect. Focus on them – – NOT yourself. Ask questions. Remember, the more someone talks, the more they like you.
  • Learn about your prospect. What do they do and what do they need? Who is an ideal client or prospect for them? What makes them unique?
  • Help your prospects by connecting them to people, businesses, groups, organizations who will, in turn, help them achieve their goals. Follow Business Network International’s motto, “Giver’s Gain”. Have a servant’s heart. DO NOT ONLY BE A TAKER. You must be a GIVER before you should expect to receive. Take care of your referral partners and they will take care of you.

#2 – Build a network of referral partners who understand your target market so they can send you referrals. Define your target market as narrowly as possible. The reason you do this is because it helps your referral sources focus on who would be a good referral for you. When asked, “who would be a good referral for you?”, DO NOT say, “Anyone who . . .” You want to be very specific. For example:

  • “I am looking for an introduction to someone who owns and operates a florist shop” instead of “Anyone who owns their own business”.
  • “I am looking for a referral to a successful real estate agent in this area” instead of “I am looking for people in sales”.

#3 – Receive referrals. I know, I know! Receiving referrals is at the end of the process. Don’t forget that building a referral-based business is a long-term marketing strategy. You must augment it with short-term strategies such as traditional advertising, special offers, cold calling, direct mail, Internet, strategic alliances, etc.  |


All Leads Are Not Created Equally – Part I

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #9 from The Termite Effect:
Click here to watch the video post about Mistake #9.

I want you to think about the sales process as an equation:

The Sale = Credibility + Price + Personality + Product / Service 

Traditional sales training teaches you that your prospect is looking for any reason to say “No”. If you lack credibility you get a “No!” Price isn’t right? “No!” Don’t like your personality? “No!” Your product or service is not exactly what they are looking for? “No!” Because of the propensity to look for “No!”, you are trained to overcome objections in order to win the sale.

Let’s talk about how you can tip the scale of this equation in your favor. Rather than spending countless hours preparing and presenting sales proposals only to find out that you were swimming upstream the whole time because the prospect never had any intention of buying what you were selling, how about building a referral-based business? Instead of evaluating HOW you sell, evaluate at TO WHOM you are selling.

The first thing I want you to do is debrief your last ten sales calls. How did you get in the door? Were they pre-qualified? Were they a warm lead? A cold call? Were they a referral? How long had you been working for the sale? Did you conduct a formal sales presentation or a casual presentation?

Next, evaluate your success rate between the leads (cold calls, pre-qualified, warm leads) and the referrals. If you are struggling with the distinction, think of a referral as someone directed TO you. In other words, someone else suggested to the prospect that they NEED to talk to YOU.

Think about how selling to referrals impacts the equation above. With a referral, you already have 25% of the equation handled – credibility! With credibility covered, you will encounter an interesting phenomenon; all other parts of the equation will receive less scrutiny from the prospect. They become less price-focused due to your credibility. They will spend less time analyzing your personality looking for reasons to say “No”. Oddly enough, your solution (the actual product or service) also becomes less important. Don’t get me wrong, just because you receive a referral does NOT mean the sale is a slam dunk but you certainly are better positioned than under any other scenario.

Building a referral-based business is the Holy Grail of sales and well worth the required time, effort and energy. We will address how to build a referral-based business in Part II of this blog.  |

Field of Dreams Business Building Theory

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Do you subscribe to the Field of Dreams Business Building Theory? You know the one – “build it and they will come”! This strategy was formerly known as “hanging a shingle” and it rarely works regardless of sector or industry.

Starting a business with such naïve and overly optimistic expectations can cause frustration when things do not turn out the way you thought and in the time frame you had arbitrarily set. It is of utmost importance that you set realistic expectations for the amount of time, energy, and money required to get your business off the ground successfully.

You must be willing and able to weather the inevitable ups and downs of starting and running your own business. This is especially important for those of you who are starting your first business.

At the outset of a any new business venture, one of your most valuable assets you have is your Passion and Enthusiasm (P&E). I have long made the argument that business owners and entrepreneurs MUST protect their P&E at all costs. Nothing squashes your P&E quicker than the consequences of unrealistic expectations, which include feelings of failure, disappointment, despair, regret, hopelessness and depression. This is particularly noxious when you have sunk a large chunk of your savings into a business.

What to do?

#1 – Understand that things will NOT go as you plan and be adaptable.

#2 – Understand that starting and running a business is a marathon not a sprint.

#3 – Plan, plan, plan! In the long run, a well-researched business plan will save you thousands of dollars and thousands of hours.

#4 – Take a long, hard look at your personal finances. Do you have enough savings or a working spouse / partner to sustain you financially for 2, 3, 5 years as you build your business?  |

Is Time Off a Pipe Dream

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #23 from The Termite Effect.

In January, I wrote about some of the time management techniques discussed in The Termite Effect. Today I want to follow up that post with a brief discussion around why it tends to be so difficult for business owners and entrepreneurs to take time off?

Let’s face it, running your own business is more than a full-time job. Turning “it” off for any sustained period of time is difficult at best, impossible at worst. Below are a few tips that may work for you as you strive for time away from your business.

First, come to the understanding that time off is a requirement in order to avoid burnout and stress. We all need to revive and rejuvenate.

Second, you may need to schedule time off just like you schedule business meetings. If you have to block the time off months in advance, do it! And refuse to violate your time-off schedule.

Third, make a commitment to get organized and build repeatable systems and processes in your business. See Mistake #1 from The Termite Effect for more details on that.

Finally, the best tool that I have seen in this arena is a concept developed by Dan Sullivan, creator of The Strategic Coach Program. He calls it The Entrepreneurial Time System®. According to Sullivan, there are three types of days – Focus, Buffer and Free.

  • Focus DaysTM are the days where you are generating revenue. Whatever you do to make money, do it on Focus Days.
  • Buffer DaysTM are days where you prepare for Focus Days (i.e. marketing activities, writing reports and presentations).
  • Free DaysTM are 24-hour blocks of time where you do NO WORK WHATSOEVER. No laptop, no Blackberry, no business-related reading.

Try to shift your thinking about the importance of taking time off from your business. Do it for your own good, the good of your family, the good of your customers and for the long-term success of your business  |

Categories: Uncategorized

Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake #14 from The Termite Effect:

As a business owner, one of your biggest challenges is building a great team around you. In his classic book, Good to Great, Jim Collins cautions the reader that it is not enough to just get the right people on the bus but you must take it a step further by getting the right people on the bus AND in the right seat.

In The Termite Effect, I make the argument that you must be slow to hire and quick to fire. Most business owners operate under the opposite scenario. They fill positions quickly in order to alleviate the stress on themselves or the rest of their staff and they allow underperforming employees to linger in their organization rather than letting them go.

Below are a few strategies to, not only get the right people on the bus, but to keep them there long-term.

    1. Set expectations upfront – Do your employees really know what is expected of them? One way to make sure is through the use of Position Contracts. These are more than your run-of-the-mill job descriptions. In these contracts, you lay out exactly what the expectations are for that particular position and, like any contract, both parties sign it and walk away with a copy.
    2. During the hiring process, do your best to discourage the prospective employee from taking the job by making it sound worse than it is. I am not advocating describing the job as working in a coal mine but let them know what challenges they can expect to encounter. See how they respond to each one. If they still want the job after hearing the worst, you probably have the right person.
    3. Be in constant communication with your employees. If you are a leader who is only seen or heard from once a week or once a month during a staff meeting, you probably are not leading anyone; consider yourself a figurehead.
    4. Explain the BIG picture to each individual and articulate how they fit into it. Each employee contributes something substantive to your company. In my mind, the bookkeeper or administrative assistant, who free up your time to pursue more profitable activities (and keeps you from pulling your hair out),  are two of the most valuable players in any organization. They need to know that.

Getting the right people on the bus and making sure they are in the right seat is an never ending job for business owners. Embrace the challenge and implement some of the action steps outlined above. Let me know how it goes.

Are You a Good Listener?

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by Mistake No. 16 from The Termite Effect.

I recently conducted a workshop called The Lost Art of Networking – How to Become a Master Networker. One of the components that I spoke about is the need to be a good listener. Whenever the topic of listening comes up, I always think about one of my favorite quotes from the Bible, James 1:19 – “Be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen.” That about says it all! God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and I believe we should use them in proportion.

Listening is not natural for many of us. It is a skill that must be practiced and developed.

In the business world, building trust with your employees, vendors, partners and customers is a necessity. I would argue that very few things build trust faster than listening. After all, the more you allow others to talk, the more likely they are to come to trust you.

Below are a few tips to improve your listening skills:

  • Listen with your eyes
  • Relax and be patient when listening to others
  • Seek to understand rather than to be understood
  • Ask great questions
  • Practice being an authentic listener

One final thought: during your next sales call, pay attention to what percent of the time you are talking versus listening. Ideally you should be listening 75%-80% of the time. How else will you determine what their problem is and if you have a solution?  |

It’s All About Focus

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Excerpt from Mistake No. 19 from The Termite Effect.

Lack of focus is an equal opportunity affliction regardless of your station in life. Focus Management is a term I use to describe the proactive approach to dealing with the inevitable ups and downs associated with living an unfocused life.

Recognizing lack of focus is relatively easy. Its symptoms include loss of motivation, procrastination, lack of progress, an ever-expanding “To-Do List”, a feeling of inconsequence, lack of purpose – “what am I doing with my life?”.  I liken this feeling to that of a rudderless ship set adrift at sea.

The prescription to this affliction is a three-part therapy.

#1 – Know yourself. What are your strengths? What activities give you the most energy?

#2 – Define what success looks like to you personally. What is the big picture for your business? For your life? Can you paint that picture?

#3 – Focus your daily activities only on those that will bring you closer to achieving your definition of success.

All three of the steps outlined above are not easy. Hire a coach or engage a mentor to help you.  |

%d bloggers like this: